We know the NBA is coming but not until the end of July. Who knows if we’ll ever see baseball this summer. The good news is we have plenty of NFL futures to put some money down on.
For Defensive Rookie of the Year, I look for a player that can get to the quarterback or one that can have a ton of tackles. Last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bosa, had nine sacks and the 2018 winner, Darius Leonard, finished the season with 163 tackles.
Redskins defensive end and second-overall pick Chase Young is an exciting player, and I feel like he can become a star. But at +200 at most books, those odds aren’t enticing enough for me.
Here is who I’m throwing some money down on.
Baltimore Ravens LB Patrick Queen (+1,200 at Westgate)
Selected with the 28th pick, Patrick Queen is slated to be an immediate starter for the AFC North champs. The Ravens lost inside linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes to free agency but I see Queen as an upgrade. The last time we saw him on a football field, he registered eight tackles, 2.5 for a loss, en route to being named Defensive MVP in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Queen finished up LSU’s perfect season with 85 tackles.
Thanks to the reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, a lot of eyes will be on the Ravens in 2020. That means a lot of folks will be seeing #48 in purple and black flying around the field (Queen ran a 4.50 40 at the NFL Combine). Let’s ride together with Queen at +1,200.
A little history lesson. Queen is the fifth linebacker Baltimore has selected in the first round since the franchise moved from Cleveland in 1996. He joins Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley. Not too shabby of a fraternity. Bouleware (1997) and Suggs (2003) both won Defensive Rookie of the Year.
San Francisco 49ers DL Javon Kinlaw (+2,600 at FanDuel)
The 49ers traded away DeForest Buckner in exchange for the 14th-overall pick in the draft and quickly filled Buckner’s spot. Similar to Patrick Queen, Javon Kinlaw should be an instant impact player. With Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford, Kinlaw joins quite a dominant defensive line in the Bay Area.
Only two defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, have won Defensive Rookie of the Year since 1995. However, according to Pro Football Focus, Kinlaw finished third in the FBS with a 90.7 pass-rush grade despite playing nearly a third of his snaps at nose tackle. If Kinlaw continues to improve as a pass rusher, he could benefit greatly from teams being more worried about his elite teammates sharing the same line.
Before you buy, make sure you shop around. Kinlaw is currently +1,400 at the Westgate SuperBook, +2,500 at DraftKings and +2,600 FanDuel.
Seattle Seahawks LB Jordyn Brooks (+3,000 at Westgate)
Brooks is an intriguing long shot to me. Seattle grabbed the Texas Tech product with the 27th pick. Brooks was a tackling machine in Lubbock, finishing 2019 with 108 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and was named a second-team All-American.
“He’s Bobby Wagner. That’s what he is.” NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger had high praise of Jordyn Brooks on Dan Hellie’s podcast, The HelliePod, after the NFL Draft. If Brooks can be 80 percent as productive as his new teammate, a five-time First-Team All-Pro, I’ll happily place a 30/1 long shot on him.
Tim Murray is the host of “The Daily Line” radio show as well as a sports betting analyst for NBC Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @1TimMurray.